In Bon Temps, death is more of a lifestyle change than anything else
Praise where it's due: This is a beautifully shot and gripping finale that totally makes up for last week's snooze-fest. The barrier between life and death isn't just thinner on Halloween, it's like a window-screen with a few fist-sized holes in it. All of Bon Temps is dancing in and of the darker realms: Marnie is dead, then she's possessing Lafayette, then Antonia's shade escorts Marnie away to the afterlife; Jesus is dead, then he's talking to Lafayette in flickering ghost form; Adele and all the ghosts pop up in the cemetery to help out, then depart again; Rene shows up to give a cryptic warning to Arlene, then disappears. Jesus's "Everything is temporary" line seems more or less the plot summary for the episode. It also seems a pretty accurate description of Bon Temps reality: Dying seems to often be more of a lifestyle change than anything else.
On that note, am I just getting jumpy, or are the following points foreshadowing zombies? First: "Zombies are the new vampires," said as a joke, then the sudden appearance of Terry's friend who Terry had thought was dead, plus the general fallibility of the Life-Death border patrol in this season as a whole ... It definitely seems suspicious. Fortunately, it seems unlikely that Sookie will fall in love with a zombie, so at least she won't have to deal with that aspect of the conflict. Her constant heartbreak can be a bit frustrating to wait through.
It's such a relief whenever we get to see Sookie's merciless side—it tends to show up around season finales especially. Last season, she ground Talbot's bones in a garbage disposal as Russell watched. This season, she shot Debbie as Debbie pleaded for her life. It's at these moments when sweet, trouble-magnet Sookie's survival makes a bit more sense. She'll need all that toughness after this finale. She just broke up with all her boyfriends (in a scene surreally similar to the judges on a Top Chef panel stringing along the final few contestants), and her best friend just died saving her from Alcide's jealous ex—it's lucky Gran came back to give Sookie a pep talk about how "bein' alone ain't nothin to be afraid of," because otherwise Sookie might be at risk of becoming slightly depressed. It's a strange situation: on the one hand, nobody will stay good and dead when you want them to, but on the other hand you have all so many loved ones being snatched away and unable to truly return.
Just as life and loves are temporary, so are the happy absences of certain enemies. As absolutely everyone must have predicted, Russell did escape. Burying him in concrete was such a mind-bogglingly dumb idea that one can only assume his captors were afraid they'd get lonely without him. Of course, now if they kill him they have to worry about him coming right back via Freeway Lafayette. On the plus side, perhaps Russell's murderous antics to come will help distract Sookie from her grief. I myself am already looking forward to the therapeutic effects we can expect from their battles in the next season.